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WI add Saqlain twist to Sachin milestone

September 9, 2013
JAIPUR: Sachin Tendulkar's 200th Test is going to be special for more reasons than one. Amid the debate on whether the Little Master should play the milestone match at home or not, visitors West Indies are planning a 'surprise' for Sachin. It's Saqlain Mushtaq's doosra!

Former Pakistan off-spinner Saqlain is training the Caribbean spinners on mastering the art of the doosra ahead of the India tour.

Saqlain's variety of spin had proved to be Tendulkar's Achilles heel throughout his career. And now, through a special camp held at the High Performance Centre in Barbados, the spinners for the likes of Devendra Bishoo, Shane Shillingford, Ashley Nash are learning trade secrets from Saqlain to tackle the Little Master in his milestone match.

Ask Saqlain about his new assignment and he smiles. "Touring India is always a challenge for any team and now that Sachin will be playing his 200th Test, the pressure will be more on the bowlers. At the moment, I'm assessing our spinners keeping all these factors in mind," Saqlain told TOI from Barbados.

The last time West Indies travelled to India a couple of years back, lack of quality spinners proved costly for Darren Sammy's men and taking lessons from that. "For any bowler playing at the international level, it's important to be physically and mentally strong. A batsman like Sachin will test your character and you can't just give up," Saqlain felt.

So what's his advice for the Sunil Narines and Shillingfords? "Read his body language and have patience. You need to judge him well and while bowling to Sachin, you will have to allow him to go for shots and then you need to counter back. That's all I will be sharing with these spinners," Saqlain elaborated.

Saqlain feels, Sachin's eyesight makes the difference. "Aap jo bhi gend dalo, who zaroor pakad lega (Whatever you bow, he is sure to read you correctly)," Saqlain laughed.

And as Saqlain talks about Sachin, he gets nostalgic, going back to the famous Chennai Test in 1999 which Pakistan won despite Tendulkar's magnificent century.

"Woh bahot hi tough match tha. He started off brilliantly and was going great guns. I tried reading his body language and that helped. I could understand that he was planning to come at me hard and there it was, a doosra to send him packing," Saqlain reminisced.

By his own admission, Sachin was the most dangerous batsman to bowl at, but off the field Saqlain still considers Sachin a 'dear friend'.

But then, Saqlain, who will join Bangladesh team next month as spin coach, won't be travelling with the West Indies team for his 'old friend's' milestone match.

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